The Premiership Strugglers - Who will finish 18th, 19th and 20th
This is never a nice article to write but someone has to do it. Last year there was a couple of surprises, as not many people predicted that Fulham and Norwich would get relegated. The only team from those who came up to the Premiership from the Championship the season before to get relegated was Cardiff City and I would not be entirely surprised if something similar occurred this year.
Well, having a second look at who came up at the end of last season, one has to say that Burnley will struggle to cope with the quality of what many of what their opponents will have to throw at them. Even though they have not spent the least money, they have not exactly invested to 'give it a good go' and despite the £1.9M acquisition of Lukas Jutkiewicz from Middlesbrough you really have to fear for Burnley in their eagerly awaited return to the top flight. I can't see them finishing above that 18th position cut-off point.
Leicester have invested over £10M since their promotion and seem well placed to finish above their fierce Midlands rivals Aston Villa. However, eyebrows have been raised with the signing of Leonardo Ulloa as all the money spent has gone on this speculative signing and there will be huge pressure on the Argentinian forward to deliver the goals to keep Leicester up. The free signing of Marc Albrighton from Aston Villa could prove to be shrewd along with a couple of loan signings of the Manchester United starlets Louis Rowley and Jack Barmby.
QPR nicked the play-off place at the expense of Derby County and they seem a bit wiser second time round in the Premiership, as there is more control on the purse strings. Jordan Mutch has been signed from Wolves for just over £7M but apart from that QPR has a squad that should be capable of learning their lessons from the last time they were in the big league. In Harry Redknapp they have an interesting manager. The free signing of Rio Ferdinand will prove to be a great asset and if Joey Barton can keep a lid on his tantrums he will be very instrumental in midfield. I expect QPR to stay up fairly comfortably this year.
So this leaves the trap-door looming for a couple of more surprises come May 2015 and one cannot look beyond Aston Villa who I expect will really struggle again this year. They have spent the grand sum of £0.8M in the close season. They have lost a few of their players and will be relying on the vulnerable Phillipe Senderos in defence, and journeymen Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson (I make the Senderos point as an Arsenal fan - expect Drogba to score against Villa this year!). There have been mixed reactions to the appointment of Roy Keane who joins Paul Lambert on the management team. Keane has been a failure as a manager wherever he has been and it will be interesting to see if a new role as a coach will be any more successful. He is not known for being the best people person and if the going gets tough, which is very possible, I fear Villa will be having another wretched season.
Sunderland, West Brom, Stoke City and Crystal Palace all will have the potential to get caught up in a major relegation battle. I will throw West Ham into the mix here too as Sam Alladyce struggled last year and with Carroll out again even before a ball is kicked it could prove to be a long season for Alladicio's West Ham.
Who do you think will be facing the drop come next May?
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